AUSTIN, Texas -- Officials with the Austin Zoo are letting people know about a venomous insect that they may see in their backyard. It is known as the "asp caterpillar" and it's a native of Texas.
Its official name is the Southern Flannel Moth and it has a painful sting.
This caterpillar is a little over an inch long with a teardrop-shape and it's covered with long, silky hairs and can range in color from light brown to yellow to gray.
11Alive sister station KVUE spoke with a woman in Manor, Texas who has had the caterpillars drop on her hand while in the Lake Travis area.
Zoo officials have had similar run-ins.
“As I was walking through the brush and, I’ve got to tell you, it was a little one so about three-eighths of an inch long," said Austin Zoo general curator John Gramieri. "They can normally grow to about an inch long, inch-and-a-half maybe. And even that tiny little one on my head -- I thought somebody had lit a cigarette out on my head."
Officials with the Austin Zoo said they haven't seen an unusual rise in population this year but it is the peak season. The "asp caterpillar" is active from July through November.
Touching one releases the venom which can cause symptoms such as burning pain, swelling, nausea, and itching.
The caterpillar also likes to stay on trees including oak, oleander, and plum.